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Daze of My Life/My Way or the Driveway

by Kenneth B. Lourie

My goodness, that was close and I didn’t even know it. My wife, Dina, recently informed me that she was one match away from winning $15,000 on a Virginia scratch-off lottery ticket she had bought. Furthermore, she said she had already decided - unbeknownst to me, and certainly undiscussed - what she was going to do with the money had she won. She was going to contract out to have our approximately 100-yard-long, country road-type, dirt and gravel driveway paved with good intentions, that means, dug up and made into a smooth, pothole-free, trench-free (from rain and water flowing downhill), asphalt driveway.

A major upgrade to be sure.

Currently our driveway would present maneuvering problems for both Mars mission rovers, Opportunity and Spirit. Mere mortal automobiles like our sedans barely stand a chance at surviving the bumps and humps and thumps that typically await any vehicle that dares travel down and then around our unmaintained driveway. Moreover, if anecdotal evidence is at all worthy of consideration, then one must also count the number of punctures, slow leaks and flat tires that our cars have experienced over the years. So many in fact that our “donuts” - the small emergency spare tires, not to be driven over 50 mph, found in many automobiles’ trunks - have been driven on so much and are tread-wearing so thin that they look more like Cheerios than they do replacement tires.

In addition to the non-level driving field on which our cars’ tires roll, one must also navigate the aboveground lack of clearance that likewise affects one’s drive from the street to our front door. And since we live on two, mostly uncleared acres, our driveway is surrounded by so many trees, branches, roots, bushes, rocks and miscellaneous other debris, hanging over, sticking out and protruding from, that reaching our house without your car receiving some unexpected scratches, undesirable dents or rubber-ruining contusion is quite unlikely.

Add in the surprise appearance of Smokey - our white/gray/black Persian cat - springing out from behind the driveway’s adjacent brush, then sauntering across the driveway directly in front of the car, slowly stretching each of his front paws as he walks from one side to the other, or facing off with Bailey, our ever-friendly, ever-vigilant, golden retriever, bounding about announcing all visitors with his tail wagging and his jaws barking. Then, consider the presence of wild rabbits, hungry deer, box turtles, black snakes, red foxes and neighbors’ cats and dogs running free (like Bailey and Smokey do), and driving down our driveway, however carefully, without hitting or hurting something, especially at night, becomes a near impossible mission.

Now whether an asphalt driveway would eliminate all of these obstacles I’ve described I cannot know for certain, but I would have loved the surprise nonetheless. Sure, I can think of more necessary home-improvement-type projects - interior and exterior painting, new windows, new gutters and downspouts, a new roof or chimney repair - that I might prefer or prioritize, but if Dina had in fact won the money, through her own initiative no less, I might have been hard-pressed to question her authority. After all, it was her dollar, and she should be rewarded for her unselfish near-action.

Perhaps she’ll win money in the future, and maybe we’ll have discussed our spending options by then. Yeah, right, and perhaps when I next drive down our driveway, I’ll see more of the forest and less of the trees.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.

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